Stress is a process, not an object…
As long as we see stress as an object, it will remain either a weight ‘out there,’ or a lump ‘in here’ (or likely both!). I am not denying the presence of significant stressors in our experience of life; nor our habits by which we embed this stress in our bodies, in our relationships and in our places. Manifestion of stress is not a process we choose willingly; but it can be an opportunity to see how we are responding to life.
When we connect with the ground of our being, and feel its slow movements deep within; when we awaken ourselves to this moment and feel it wash over us; when we breathe, because breathing is at the core of all our needs and the surest expression of our desires…
we may loosen our desperate grip, the grip which is itself the nature of the stress that cripples us… and we may fall into a place of potent vulnerability which does not expose or waste itself but integrates and consummates our experience of life and our energies for renewal. Settling into trust…
(Simon Williams, 27.7.12)
. . .
‘Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath.’
‘It seems to me that fear is more basic than the emotions. It comes from our basic confusion. Fear touches on the most basic aspect of the human dilemma: “How do we live in an uncertain world?” We understand this when we sit to practice. We don’t really know what to do with our experience. We either get lost in our thoughts or try to suppress them. Somehow, we can’t find our resting place with the energy and expression of our mind. It can feel overwhelming – scary. … So we can say that, due to our inability to relax around experience, we contract in fear or get lost in our confusion. It says in the teachings that this “overwhelm” causes us to cling tightly. This experience of clinging tightly is what we misunderstand as the self. We continue to look for stability and security, and yet the world (our inner and outer worlds) is not a static situation. What we experience as a self, we could say, is a continued desire for happiness and freedom from suffering. The problem we have is that there is so much bewilderment around our experience and not knowing what to do with it, we contract out of fear…..There is panic, which is a frozen, very physical, sensation. Our breath gets shallow. We feel like life is something happening to us, rather than feeling a part of the bigness of life.’
(Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, Moving Beyond Fear – see fuller quote at mindfulbalance.org)